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Fairfield CT juvenile defense attorneyTeenagers sometimes make impulsive decisions that land them in legal trouble. If your son or daughter has been charged with a criminal offense, you may be very concerned about the consequences he or she will face. Minors are typically tried in juvenile court. Unlike adult court, juvenile courtrooms are closed to the public and juvenile records are sealed. In most cases, a juvenile offender may eventually petition to have his or her criminal record erased. Incarceration sentences are also typically shorter for juveniles than they are for adults, and juveniles are held in a juvenile detention center instead of an adult correctional facility. However, there are many cases in which a juvenile may be tried as an adult and subject to adult consequences.

Connecticut Laws Regarding Juvenile Offenses

If your child is at least 14 years old and has been charged with a Class A or Class B felony offense, he or she will be tried as an adult. Crimes such as kidnapping, arson, sexual assault, homicide, and armed robbery typically result in a teenaged offender being transferred to the adult criminal system. However, a teenager who is subject to the adult criminal system also has the same Constitutional rights as an adult criminal defendant. He or she has the right to remain silent, consult with an attorney, decline police questioning, and more.

For other offenses, whether or not a juvenile is tried as an adult is often up to the juvenile prosecutor’s discretion. If your child was accused of selling or manufacturing drugs, assault with a weapon, vehicular homicide, certain weapons violations, or another felony offense, it is possible that he or she may be treated as an adult during criminal proceedings. Some of the factors that prosecutors consider when deciding whether or not to try a youth as an adult include:

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Posted on in Juvenile Crimes

CT defense lawyerIf your child commits a crime while they are under the age of 17, the offense will generally be handled in juvenile court, which is focused far more on rehabilitation than on punishment. However, sometimes the offense will not be serious enough to be sent to adult court, but serious enough to warrant further supervision. In these cases, the answer is usually to remand the juvenile to detention. This is less common than it used to be, but it will happen in some cases, and if it does, it is important for both you and your child to understand your rights in this situation.

15 Days Max - Usually

Most situations in which a minor is arrested in Connecticut will end in their being released to their parents with a promise to appear in juvenile court in days or weeks. However, if the child has committed a more serious offense, authorities have the option of sending them to juvenile detention until the next business day, when arraignment will usually happen. Unlike in adult court, bail is not required in juvenile court, and minors may not post bail of their own accord, so very often a minor will remain in the detention center until their arraignment.

In all but the rarest cases, the maximum amount of time a juvenile can remain in detention is 15 days. The only time this will be extended is if the juvenile has committed a serious juvenile offense (SJO), which is a crime which may (and frequently must) merit transferring the case to adult court. The list of SJOs include approximately 50 felonies, such as murder, sexual assault, and first-degree robbery, and kidnapping. If your child has been charged with an SJO, the likelihood of them remaining in juvenile detention is quite high even if the case remains in the juvenile court system.

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CT defense lawyerIn Connecticut, anyone under the age of 18 who is accused of committing a crime will generally be arrested and made to appear before a juvenile court to discuss the case. If your family has never before been involved with the law, this whole process can be a terrible and frightening time. An experienced juvenile justice attorney can help answer any questions and alleviate concerns that you might have so that your child can be certain to have their rights protected during the legal process.

Q: If my child is arrested, do I have any rights during the process?

A: Yes. Parents have a right to be informed about their child’s arrest and are permitted to refuse any interrogation of their children. Arrested juveniles also have a fairly high chance of being released into a parent’s custody unless the alleged offense is very serious (in which case, it will likely be transferred to adult court, where your child will be treated in a similar manner to any other adult offender).

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CT juvenile lawyerWhen a young person is caught damaging property, it can too often signify that something is wrong at home, or at school. However, vandalism is still a crime in Connecticut, and very often, juvenile charges may be brought in order to teach the young person a lesson. Criminal mischief, as Connecticut law refers to vandalism, can remain on your child’s record and cause them problems in the future. Contacting an attorney is a crucial step to deal with these charges.

Criminal Mischief

Criminal mischief in Connecticut is defined as causing any kind of physical damage to another person’s property - including, but not limited to vandalism. The more serious degrees require the intent to cause damage, while third and fourth-degree criminal mischief do not, and the actual damage can be as minor as a small scratch or as large as an all-consuming fire. There are several different reasons why these types of offenses happen for both juveniles and adults, including domestic disputes, pranks, or simply out of malice.

A defendant under the age of 18 may be charged either as a juvenile or as an adult. If you are charged as an adult, the degree of the charge will depend on the value of whatever property was damaged. First-degree criminal mischief is most often the charge when the damaged property is worth more than $1,500, while if the property is worth between $250 and $1,499, the charge will be in the second degree. The penalty for first-degree criminal mischief is a sentence of between one and 5 years in prison, plus fines of up to $5,000, while a second-degree conviction will result in a sentence of one year and $2,000 in fines.

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CTdefense lawyerSome young people make bad choices and wind up with a criminal record, which can, in turn, cause them serious problems later in life. However, in Connecticut, it is often possible for juveniles to have their criminal records expunged, meaning that all (or most) of the offenses will be erased as if they had never existed. That said, not every juvenile record is eligible for expungement or sealing, and it is important that you be able to understand the options that you and your child may face.

Three Routes Through The Legal System

Whether or not your child’s record can be expunged will largely depend on how the offense or offenses were disposed of by the Connecticut legal system. Your child will be assessed under one of three categories in the legal system, depending on the offense they have committed. They may have their case adjudicated in juvenile court, where they will be referred to as a juvenile offender; they may have their case removed to adult court and receive special “youthful offender” protections, or they can, if the offense is deemed serious enough, be tried as an adult, and have to navigate the court system as any other adult would.

Each of these three categories can lead to a different outcome in terms of having one’s record expunged. A juvenile offender is not technically convicted of a crime; rather, they are adjudicated delinquent, and unless they commit further crimes requiring the supervision of the juvenile justice system (generally the Superior Court or the Department of Children and Family Services), those delinquencies can be erased automatically after two years. Juveniles are generally seen to merit the most second chances.

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